Best of times … Worst of times … “You are fired”
Syed Nasir Ershad
It is a well-known fact that Donald Trump, the showman, is fond of making drama. The TV watchers must remember his reality show ‘The Apprentice’. Therein every episode some apprentice would hear these dreadful words from him. And he utterly enjoyed uttering those words; every syllable of the phrase.
They say people do not change. Really so. Yesterday Donald Trump said in a statement that his campaign chairman Paul Manafort has resigned from his position. He said that Paul Manafort offered, and he accepted, his (Paul’s) resignation from the campaign. I do not think many people buy his statement. If you know the guy, you would tend to believe that Paul was actually fired. Look at Trump’s hypocrisy when he said in his statement that he was very appreciative for Paul’s great work in helping to get the campaign where it was today. He also said that Paul was a true professional and wished him (Paul) the greatest success.
With just under three months to go until the election day, Paul’s departure reflects the shifting power centers on the Trump campaign: After consolidating influence and discarding with Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Paul has now found himself on the outs after Trump elevated two different aides to senior positions on Tuesday: Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon as campaign CEO and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager.
It is the second high profile departure from the top of Trump’s campaign structure after campaign manager Corey Lewandowski left the operation earlier this summer. A new campaign manager and executive were named earlier this week. It was rumoured that Trump lost faith in Paul a couple of weeks ago, feeling like he (Paul) was not quick enough with answers to his questions, instead offering to look into an issue or get him a report on it. Trump does not want people around him who he thinks are moving too slowly. The departure also came as Paul was defending himself from investigations into his extensive lobbying history overseas, particularly in the Ukraine, where he represented pro-Russian interests. Paul has been beating back reports from multiple media outlets in recent days over his ethics, which have been egged on by a Clinton campaign eager to highlight Trump’s ties to the Kremlin.Paul was originally brought on in the spring to save Trump from a defeat at the Republican convention should Trump have failed to win enough delegates to clinch a first-ballot nomination. Yet his role grew to serve as Trump’s connection to the GOP establishment, assuring Republican elders that their presidential nominee would run a traditional campaign.
After warring behind the scenes for months with Lewandowski, who had little regard for Paul, Lewandoswki was fired earlier this summer. That decision by Trump seemed to be an embrace of Paul’s strategy. Paul installed many of his associates in the upper echelons of the campaign, signaled his support for an allied super PAC and crushed attempts to embarrass Trump at the Republican convention in Cleveland. Yet as his poll numbers tumbled, Trump decisively reversed course, installing a media provocateur, Bannon, as his campaign’s CEO. Paul’s role had been diminished, and Bannon is expected to encourage Trump to embrace the hyper-aggressive attitude that won him the primary.
On the other hand the Clinton campaign looked to use Paul’s resignation to tie Trump and Putin together. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement that Paul’s resignation was a clear admission that the disturbing connections between Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine were untenable. He also mused that getting rid of Manafort was not a sign of ending the odd romance Trump has with Putin.With less than three months to go before the election date, perhaps there are many more dramas left. It would be interesting to watch the course the US election campaign shapes up in the coming days.